Legislative Update

The Good, The Bad, and The Challenges of AB 86 Consortia Planning

The Amazing Good

Amazingly, seventy consortia have been formed and are in compliance with the provisions of AB 86. This total includes all community college geographic areas statewide. It took state law to get it done, but it happened, and it was even voluntary. All consortia have identified a fiscal agent, identified consortium members, and drafted the initial narratives. And the specific funding for each community college geographic area has been distributed based on criteria citing local education and workforce training needs.

Now the real work is beginning with a two-fold challenge: First: Can each consortium develop plans that will expand and improve education and workforce training outcomes for adults? Second: Can the consortia plans collectively convince the policy advisors, Governor, and state legislature that the outcomes of the AB 86 undertaking are worthy of being carried to the next stage of implementation with new statutes and funding to get the job done.

AB 86 consortia recommendations that elevate the quality of adult education and workforce preparation, two phrases that are inseparable, will elicit support at the state level. At this point, it is ours to lose!

The Troublesome Bad

To their credit, many of the consortia are developing trusting, collaborative, focused and productive teams of members and partners. Other consortia may still be testing the waters of trust and collaboration, and have yet to develop their collective vision. Others, including professional organizations and unions may have chosen to ignore the planning and proceed to an ending focused only on 2015-16 funding. With still others, energy is being wasted developing points to denigrate either K12 adult education or community colleges without supportive evidence. These wasteful approaches are detrimental to the expectations that many have for improving educational opportunities for the state’s adults. At this point “the many” definitely include the Governor and state legislature, with high expectations and without preconceived notions.

Another Troublesome Bad Because of a Lack of Partnering and Coalition Building

It is ironic that the AB 86 consortium concept expects resources to be leveraged and linked to provide the best opportunities for education and workforce training. Related to AB 86, SB 91 provided a two-year maintenance of effort for adult education and Regional Occupation Centers/Programs. ROC/Ps have been a major provider of real employment training opportunities for young adults, and yet, as of now, they are to expire June 2015, without an identified replacement. In other words, ROC/Ps are gone in that month.

An organized effort to continue career-training opportunities and options is needed from the collected group that is involved in improving CTE statewide, and this is the very same group that is involved in AB 86 consortia planning. One needs to ask why hasn’t a coalition effort been initiated to leverage and articulate programs for adults and ROC/Ps for 2015-16 going forward.

The First Challenge

Following the challenges of spirited iterations leading to Assembly Bill 86, the Sacramento Cabinet and Working Group faced rumors, speculations, misinformation (sometimes disinformation), release dates and re-release dates. In spite of perceived chaos, the Sacramento Cabinet and Working Group created a Certificate of Eligibility, a funding formula, resources and target dates – all designed to produce 70 Consortium Plans throughout California – plans that will provide perspective for 2015-16 going forward – plans that will improve the lives of adults throughout California

But clearly we have to give credit as well to local educators who are proceeding forward with the challenges of deadlines and content that will impact policy and funding decisions for 2015-16, and this starts with the Governor’s state budget proposal in January 2015. This work has begun!

The AES Perspective on Asking for a Clear and Sound Message

As time moves forward rapidly, it is important that the consortia message avoid a lack of definition and it instead be concise with high expectations for all involved in educating adults. Those who will interpret the message that comes forward from consortia planning will be more than willing to support that message if it is positive, focused, collaborative, confident, and productive. The support of the legislature and Governor means a great deal to those individuals who are out there waiting for us to provide the education and pathways that will enrich their lives and the lives of their families.